Populist TX Dems Win Traditional Republican Voters at TTC Hearings

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Crossposted on Texas Kaos

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Without watering down their populist message, Texas's most populist Democratic Challengers are winning over traditional Republican activists. The Trans Texas Corridor Hearings by TDoT are uniting activists who usually face off against each other. Democratic Candidates Hank Gilbert (TX Agriculture Commissioner), David Van Os, (Attorney General) and Fred Head (Comptroller) all face opponents who received money from Zachry which is the Corporation chosen by TDoT to share with Citras in the $190 billion 50 year tolled Trans Texas Corridor.July 31
— Beeville Community Center, 111 E. Corpus Christi St.
Lockhart — Lockhart High School Cafetorium,  #1 Lion Country Dr.
Flatonia — Flatonia ISD Cafetorium, 400 E. 4th St.

Aug. 1
— Manor High School Cafeteria, 12700 Gregg Manor Rd.
Gonzales — Gonzales High School Cafeteria,  1801 Sarah DeWitt Dr.
Kingsville — King Ranch Museum, 405 N. 6th St.

Aug. 2
— Bastrop Middle School Cafeteria, 709 Old Austin Hwy.
Calallen — Calallen High School Cafeteria,  4001 Wildcat Dr.
Pleasanton — Pleasanton High School Cafeteria, 1100 W. Adams St.

Aug. 3
— Smithville High School Cafeteria, 285 State Highway 95
Floresville — Floresville High School Gymnasium, 1832 Highway 97 East

Aug. 7
— Sacred Heart Parish Hall, 201 W. Blucher
Laredo — TAMIU Western Hemispheric Trade Ctr.,Rm. 111, 5201 University Blvd.
Pearsall — Pearsall High School Cafeteria, 1990 Maverick Dr.

Aug. 8
— McAllen Convention Center, 1300 S. 10th St.
Alice — Knights of Columbus Hall, 1050 Cecilia St.
San Antonio — East Central High School Cafetorium, 7173 FM 1628

Aug. 9
George West
— George West High School Cafetorium, 913 Houston St.
Harlingen — Casa de Amistad, 1204 Fair Park Blvd.
Seguin — Seguin-Guadalupe County Coliseum, 810 S. Guadalupe St.

Aug. 10
— Yorktown Community Mess Hall, 60 Community Hall Rd.
Brownsville — City of Brownsville Events Cente, 1 Event Ctr. Blvd.

Races which normally are dwarfed in the public eye are stealing much of the spotlight from the Governor's and Lt. Governor's races this year. Although support of TTC is a strong issue in those top two races, some of Texas “downticket Democratic Challenger” are the heavy-hitters who are driving home the TTC sword which is proving to be the defining litmus test this year in Texas. Rick Perry received over $146,000.00 in the past 5 1/2 years from Zachry family members, corporations and PAC. Lt. Governor, David Dewhurst accepted $51,000.00 last year from the same donors. Dewhurst was instrumental in smoothing the journey of TTC Toll Road Privitazation of Texas Highways legislation through the Senate. Independent Governorial Candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn is assaulting Perry's record and support of Toll Roads, and is getting lots of applause from attendees at TDoT Public Hearings, yet refuses to return the $13,000.00 she accepted from Zachry family members and related interests when she ran for her current position of Comptroller during the last election cycle.

HANK GILBERT, Democrat for TX Agriculture Commissioner, has an excellent TTC position statement and fact sheet on his newly revamped website: http://www.hankgilbe…

Hank explains NAFTA involvement in Texas's current Transportation planning and the pitfalls of implementation of NAFTA on Texas's second largest economic sector, Agriculture:

Hank explains why he decided to run for office. A person who has a low tolerance for political “bullshit”, Hank represents many Texans who have not had adequate voice in Texas Politics for years.  Read what Hank has to say:

He's been making the news as he travels Texas speaking at TTC hearings:

Gilbert was interviewed by Channel 8 at the TCC Hearing at Temple, Texas July 23rd and was taped testifying July 18th at the Fort Worth Trans Texas Corridor Hearing.  Video Hank's speech at the Texas Democratic Convention June 9th in Fort Worth:


That link will lead you to Hank Gilbert talking straight about Weights and Measures and The Trans Texas Corridor

is also available at:


To help Hank Gilbert pay his travel expenses as he trucks from hearing to hearing and talks to citizens at Whistle stops across Texas on Court House steps, contribute to his Campaign for Agrigulture Commissioner on-line:


David Van Os, (right) Democrat for Texas Attorney General and Hank Gilbert, (left) Candidate for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture are running a New Hampshire style court house to court house campaign in Texas this year. They are taking their message straight to the voters instead of relying on television commercials to get the message out. They are both adamantly opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor and the back room method of planning, dividing the “spoils” among potential profiteers, and changes in vast amounts of Texas's Transportation Code by the Texas elected officials who received massive amounts of campaign funding from the parties who have been selected to share in constructing and operating the Trans Texas Corridor.

With the current high cost of gasoline, continually traveling from town to town across this vast state of Texas is very costly. They are determined to give TEXANS a CHOICE this year. We do not have to LIVE WITH THE CURRENT SORRY LOT OF ELECTED OFFICIALS WE CURRENTLY SUFFER IN TEXAS.

Please help them put gasoline in their gas tanks. To contribute to David Van Os's campaign fund. This link will allow you to indicate whether you prefer your donation to go toward outdoor advertising, radio advertising, or whistle stop gasoline and motel expenses.


To contribute to help David Van Os continue telling Texas the Truth about what must be changed in Texas:


David has an August 15th deadline to raise funds for outdoor advertising. If you want to see a strong Democratic message in your community, please donate at least $10.01 online to help David send a message to BIG CORPORATE PROFITEERS and PRICE GOUGERS.  Actually, the money is needed by August 12th so that contracts can be signed and paid by August 15th for Outdoor Advertising!  Please consider helping David Van Os and Hank Gilbert continue stumping across Texas and telling Texans' the TRUTH. 

Comptroller for Public Accounts Candidate, Fred Head is also traveling the state speaking out against the TTC. Head, who was instrumental in helping pass Public Meeting and Campaign Financial Disclosure Laws during his 14 years in the Texas House, does not have a Campaign Website. He is angry at the underhanded way that the TDoT, Contractors, State Senators, State Legislators and Transportation planners have conspired to circumvent important checks and balances with the TTC process. An attorney from Athens, in the Piney Woods region of East Texas, Head has always fought for funding Excellent Free Public Education.

During his 14 years service in the House of Representatives, Fred Head served as Chair of the Higher Education Committee.

Fred Head was a member of the House Appropriations Committee and of the Legislative Budget Board. He has also taught Accounting at Sam Houston State Teachers' College. Many think Fred Head is the most qualified candidate to ever file to run for Comptroller of Public Accounts in Texas.

Head's opponent, Susan Combs, the current Commissioner of Agriculture, served a couple of terms in the TX House before running for Agriculture Commissioner. Unlike Head, she did not serve on either the Appropriations Committee or the Legislative Budget Board, and has demonstrated deplorable ablitity as Agriculture Commissioner to accurately forecast her department's costs. Her resume shows no training in Accounting, either private or public. Combs is under fire for accepting campaign contributions from Zachry, one of two corporate interests who has been “vetted” by TDoT in a private closed-door process as TDoT's choice to build and manage the $190 billion 50 year toll road/ rail/ utility Trans Texas Corridor.  Combs has also been criticized by many for failing to inspect gas pumps in Texas. When Jim Hightower was Ag Commissioner gas pump scales were usually inspected annually although the law only required that they be inspected every two years. Current law only requires that the Agriculture Commission inspect them every four years. In March 2006 over 40% of the gasoline scales in Texas had stickers which were expired!

Fred Head has a long, consistent record on Education, fighting for open meetings, financial accountability in the campaign and state and local governmental budgetary process. Known for standing firm and seldomly budging under pressure on what he believes to be right and good for the people of Texas, Fred Head has angered more than a few powerful political people during his long career in Texas. He is the only person in Texas history to defeat a seated Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives (Dolph Brisco).  Despite years of being labeled by opponents as “a poor candidate” or “not a viable candidate”, Fred Head has consistently won elections and proven that the voters disagree with Head's distractors in the media and political power brokers in Austin about the value he brings to public service in Texas and his “electability!”

Susan Combs, backed by powerful monied interest, has exaggerated her qualifications each time she has run for public office. Her failure to represent the livestock and farm interests of Texas prompted Hank Gilbert to run for Agriculture Commissioner. Angered by the neglect of Agriculture by career politicians who use the Texas Agriculture Commissioner slot as a launching pad for future political offices, Gilbert leads the cry of many rural voters in demanding  “Agriculture First and Politics Last!”  Urban and non-agriculture special interest support has enabled a series of career politicians with little understanding of Agriculture to win the Agriculture Commissioner's seat in Texas election after election. Now farmers and ranchers, represented by Hank Gilbert, are leading the assault against self-serving politicians. Rick Perry used that office as a launching pad for Lt. Governor. George Bush left the business of running the state to Perry while he campaigned for the Presidency. Now many are questioning 'Who's minding the store while Perry positions himself to run for national office?'.  Todd Staples wants to win the Agriculture Commissioner race to move forward in his career. The current Agriculture Commissioner, the less than capable Susan Combs, wants  control of the State's check book as Comptroller of Public Accounts.

For decades Texans have suffered while politicians have have used current elective offices as campaign stops in ambitious power grabs.

Hank Gilbert criticizes Head's opponent, Susan Combs for failing to understand that Mexican cattle are still imported into Texas (despite no testing there for Mad Cow Disease) while Mexico forbids importation of US Cattle. Under Combs, the Tx Agriculture Commission has inspected less than 1% of the fruits and vegetables imported into Texas for pests and toxic pesticides and chemicals which are outlawed for use in Texas Agriculture.
When brush fires destroyed destroyed many Texas Farms earlier this year, causing damage massive enough to be described as “The Katrina for Texas Farmers and Ranchers”, Combs was not responsive.

Head is not a farmer. He hasn't crossed paths as frequently with his opponent, the current Agriculture Commissioner, as rancher Hank Glbert has. Head is angry at the failure of many elected officials to represent the public good. He sees Todd Staples, Gilbert's opponent, and Susan Combs, his opponent as both putting personal career interest before the welfare of the voters of Texas. When Gilbert speaks of Susan Combs, there is fire in his eyes. His opinion of her is personal. Her failure to fight for Texas farmers and ranchers is a betrayal of his friends and neighbors. Nothing about the Agriculture Commission is abstract to Hank Gilbert. It's vital, immediate, and the difference between the survival of family farmers and rancher and he's determined to cull folks off of the payroll of Texas who betray the people they promised to serve. Susan Combs is high on his list of people who need to leave the public payroll. Gilbert is appalled that Susan Combs thinks she should be rewarded and given the checkbook of Texas Taxpayer – Comptroller of Public Accounts!

I agree with Hank Gilbert. We have a better choice than Combs for Comptroller of Public Accounts: We have FRED HEAD, an attorney who was a 14 year member of the Texas House, who is skilled enough at ACCOUNTING to have taught it on the University Level, and who has in-depth understanding of the budgetary process in Texas Government through service on the House Appropriations Committee and the Legislative Budget Board!

The Good News is that that Susan Combs won't be Agriculture Commissoner in Texas next year.  However, another career politician wants to use that office as a launching platform for career advancement.

Todd Staples wants Texans to elect him Texas Agriculture Commissioner!  Hank Gilbert's opponent for Agriculture Commissioner is the State Senator from Palestine who authored the TTC enabling Senate Bill 1706.  Todd Staples  receiving $14,000.00 from Zachry in campaign contributions in 2005. His bill authorizes the exercise of eminent domain to condemn private property for use by private entities who contract with TDoT on toll road projects such as the TTC. It extends eminent domain for condemnation of property for use as toll plazas, warehouses, convenience stores, stop stations, restaurants run by private companies along or contingent to toll roads. The language in his bill allows TDoT to perform their own environmental impact studies, to seal proposals and information secured by TDoT officials and consultants in researching toll projects from suspena and court orders unless the private partner consents to the disclosure, and grants TDoT and /or their private partners to set toll rates and write their own rules and function without further legislative or voter oversight. oversight. It is estimated that Tier 1 of the TTC will gobble up 83,000 acres of Texas farm and ranch land. Once that acreage goes out of production, it can never be regained.

Fortunately, Texans have a CHOICE this year. Hank Gilbert, an agriculture teacher, rancher and business man, provides Texans a QUALIFIED, RESPONSIBLE ALTERNATE to Staples misguided demented misplaced prioriites and ambitions. VISIT HANK'S WEBSITE:


It's time Texans put PEOPLE FIRST and POLITICS LAST!

Questions not answered at TTC Hearings

Why should our tax dollars be spent to plan this corridor?”
“Why should we pay tolls to travel on the TTC so that foreign investors can earn a return on their investment?”

“Why should Texans give up our land to meet priorities of folks outside Texas?

Won’t cutting back significantly on the farm and ranch acreage under production cause grocery prices to rise as available land decreases and acreage goes out of production?

“Won’t the tolls paid by trucks shipping to Texans’ be passed along to us in transportation costs added to the food and merchandise we buy?” 

“Why should we go in debt to private (let alone foreign) companies to build highways and rail corridors in Texas?  Shouldn't we be revamping our state's transportation and budgetary priorities so that we can stand independent of special interest?”

“Aren’t tolls actually a regressive Tax which will further separate the have’s from the have nots based on their ability to pay tolls to drive the TTC?”

“Explain to us how our taxes won't rise when acreage is taken out of our school districts and local city and county tax districts.”

“How does it make sense to turn Texas roads and utility pipelines over to private companies — one of which is foreign based?”

“How does channeling more traffic through Texas help us with our pollution problems?”

“Doesn't it make more sense to develop additional lanes on existing right of way along existing highways instead of buying 83,000 more acres?”

“How does it make sense to plan for a reality 50 years in the future when we don’t know what technology will exist 50 years from now?  Within a 50 year span 1915-1965  Texans saw transportation move from horse and wagon / buggy to rockets taking men into space and ordinary citizens flying around the world?”

“Isn't it cheaper to raise taxes than it is to:

  pay tolls for 50 years,

  pay a return on private investment,

  make up the loss of revenue to local and school districts,

  incur additional transportation fees from delivery of merchandise
  by trucks utilizing the toll roads,

  to pay additional cost for food in the grocery store when texas
  farmers and ranchers lose acreage currently under production

  pay more for any future land purchases because there is less
  available land?”

“The TTC might be a priority for people outside Texas. Don’t we have higher transportation priorities within Texas to solve urban traffic congestion, implement rail to move people within our urban centers, and to link Texas’s major urban centers by rail and to reduce air pollution. How does this plan meet those priorities?”

“Why should Texans give up our land, pay higher costs to ride on roads in Texas, to expedite shipping through Texas? We’d rather pay taxes to drive on our highways and pay fees to ride rail than to pay tolls and give up precious Texas land for other folks to ship things through Texas!” 

“So you tell us there is no money to build and repair our roads? Who is responsible for that? Why not transfer the funds back which were moved out of Transportation accounts into the General Account?.  Why not demand the money back from the Feds which is going to other states from Texas oil and gas taxes?
Isn’t it time to get real about the budget instead of trying to delay the cost by going into debt to private investors?”

“If you’re sure this is so good for Texan’s, why not let us vote on it?”

“If it’s a win win for Texas, why the back room deals, dispensation of open meeting rules and exemption of the bidding/proposal process from normal court order and subpoena.”

“What kind of sense does it make for any agency (TDoT) to be allowed to do their own environmental studies?”


About Author


  1. Dallas TTC HEARING

    My testimony at the Trans Texas Corridor “hearing” in Dallas, 7-27-06.

    If I had any surprise – – it was the number of times my 3 minute statement was
    interrupted by applause.

    – –
    I'm Tom Blackwell, from Dallas, speaking in opposition. I'm against all 12

    I predict in 10 years that this Trans Texas Corridor will be in the same
    place as the Superconducting Super Collider and the Trinity River
    Bargeway – that we voted against in the 70's.

    This comes to us from people who want to make it easier to import heavy
    manufactured goods from China – through a port in Mexico. This will increase
    the balance of trade deficit.

    I am concerned that this means manufactured automobiles and trucks. The
    supporters of this corridor would come to do the same thing to new vehicle
    manufacturing in the United States that has been done to our domestic
    manufacturing of home furniture. In the end it means importing a large number
    of vehicles from China, ending our existing economic opportunities and closing
    the General Motors Plant in Arlington, and similar plants around the country.

    Instead of engaging Mexico in this plan, we need to engage them in the
    development of their petroleum reserves. We have the technology to help
    them. They need to move away from the Napoleonic Code and open their
    resources. Instead of a vehicle corridor we need oil pipelines from Mexico.
    We also need new gasoline refineries in Mexico. We need a trading partner that
    is not involved with OPEC. Those who live in Mexico would be able to find
    exciting new job opportunities there, and there would not be such a huge
    rush to cross the border to seek employment in the United States.

    This Corridor proposal will turn every election in Texas into a
    referendum on whether or not it will continue. If it takes a Texas
    Constitutional Amendment to end this – – so be it – – it will happen.

    Those who are thinking about investing in a Corridor should be warned
    about the action the people can take with a constitutional amendment,
    and with election of different people to public office, that will cause
    them to lose every cent they have invested.

    The best result now is to get elected and appointed officials who are working in
    the wrong direction on this – – to move on. They have directly hurt the
    public's ability to trust the state government.

    We need to get their desks cleaned out, get them off the payroll and out of the
    retirement program.

    – –
    Pictures from the event:

    We're here from the Perry Administration, and we're here to help you (the “right
    of way” desk):


    State officials at the podium take the testimony:


    Fred Head, Democratic Nominee for Comptroller, testifies:


    The audience:


    Independent candidate Strayhorn – was weak, ineffective and late to begin
    criticizing Perry – but she finds a camera to smile at anyway:


    Earlier, Ms. Strayhorn poses for a camera, attempting to get more free TV news


    Maps on display:


    Sign directs people to the event:


    The parking cartel. Many citizens drove around the building looking for a
    parking place, but found someone from the Perry administration had blocked off a
    few parking spaces near the entrance with orange cones. At the end of the day,
    no one had parked in the empty spaces. We found a parking space a block away:


    – –
    More info: http://www.corridorw

    Regards, TOM BLACKWELL, PO Box 25403, Dallas, Texas 75225

  2. David Van Os Continues Whistle Stops – Challenges Abbott to join him
    Van Os challenges Abbott to meet him on Whistlestop Tour.

    As David Van Os continues his Whistlestop Tour of all 254 Texas counties, he advises incumbent Attorney General Greg Abbott of his Tour schedule for this week and challenges Abbott to meet and respond to him in public.

    Today, Van Os faxed a letter to Abbott’s campaign stating, “Enclosed please find my Whistlestop Tour schedule for August 1-3, 2006. Just as I did for last week’s Tour, I repeat my challenge for you to appear personally at any or all of the stops, or through a representative, to respond to me in public.”

    Van Os’s letter gave Abbott a copy of his Whistlestop Tour schedule for August 1-3. Van Os will appear at 15 South Texas county courthouses in 3 days to meet the public, discuss his intentions as Attorney General to challenge and defeat the corporate robber barons and political power grabbers on behalf of the people, and answer questions from the public and the press.

    Last Friday Van Os made his 103rd courthouse stop at the Anderson County Courthouse in Palestine. His itinerary for this week is as follows.

      9:00 a.m. – Webb County Courthouse, Laredo
    11:15 a.m. – Duval County Courthouse, San Diego
      1:15 p.m. – Jim Wells County Courthouse, Alice
      3:00 p.m. – San Patricio County Courthouse, Sinton
      4:15 p.m. – Nueces County Courthouse, Corpus Christi
      9:00 a.m. – Kleberg County Courthouse, Kingsville
    10:15 a.m. – Kenedy County Courthouse, Sarita
    12:30 p.m. – Willacy County Courthouse, Raymondville
      2:15 p.m. – Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville
      4:15 p.m. – Hidalgo County Courthouse, Edinburg
      8:00 a.m. – Starr County Courthouse, Rio Grande City
      9:45 a.m. – Zapata County Courthouse, Zapata
    12:15 p.m. – Jim Hogg County Courthouse, Hebbronville
      1:30 p.m. – Brooks County Courthouse, Falfurrias
      4:30 p.m. – LaSalle County Courthouse, Cotulla

    • It says that they were out at other TTC
      Hearings! The candidates are covering all the hearings and there is more than one hearing a night.

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